Free Yearly Credit Reports Provided by Law

I just happened to be reading a Seattle Times article on the importance of knowing your partner’s credit score before marriage. In that article, there’s an almost unnoticeable little block of text:

Looking at credit reports annually is a good idea, anyway, to discover any inaccuracies that could negatively affect how creditors look at you, said Holly Hunter, a financial planner in Portsmouth, N.H.

The big three credit bureaus — Experian, 888-397-3742; Equifax, 800-685-1111; and TransUnion, 800-888-4213 — sell credit reports. A new federal law, already in effect in Washington state, entitles consumers to one free credit report a year (emphasis mine).

"Well, that’s interesting," I thought to myself — what’s the deal here? I did a quick Google search and came up with an FTC announcement, which states:

Soon you’ll be able to get your credit report for free. A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months, from The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has prepared a brochure, Your Access to Free Credit Reports, explaining your rights and how to order a free annual credit report.

The law took effect on the West Coast on December 1, 2004 and is slowly being phased in nationally — Midwestern states can access under this law by March 1 of this year. The site also provides a link to, the ordering venue for the free reports.

Personally, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this — it doesn’t seem like it’s overly popular knowledge, though I could be wrong. Cool, though. Very cool.

Comments are closed.